We’ve all been there: completely amped up for yet another diet plan or fitness program. You do great the first week and you’re so proud of yourself. Then the second week comes and you’re determined to keep going and make it a habit. Then week three comes and life starts happening and you start making excuses. Before you know it two months have gone by and you see people getting to their goals and you feel like you’ve just wasted time. So what do you do? Jump on another diet plan or fitness program? Give up completely? Keep going even though you feel like you’re so far behind you can’t catch up? My recommendation: keep on trucking!
Now I’m not saying that you should jump to week 4 of a fitness plan when your skill and endurance level is at week 1 or to start at week 15 of a marathon training plan when you’ve taken four weeks off. What I’m saying is don’t give up. So often we get excited about our new plan to “eat clean” or work out six days a week, and we lose some weight and feel good about ourselves but somewhere along the line we decide it’s hard and we want to give up. So you lose fifteen pounds and decide it’s too hard to continue and you give up. Well let me ask you this: are you willing to gain that weight back? In fitness and weight loss, giving up means losing the strength we’ve built and gaining back the weight we’ve lost. Are you willing to do that? I’m not!
So what do you do when you feel like the fitness routine or dietary lifestyle you want doesn’t fit into the life that you have? Reevaluate your choices. It sounds great to say, “I run five days a week, and I lift weights four days a week,” but if you can’t keep up with that schedule and it’s making you feel like a failure, then change it. Make it work for you. Start off small and build up to that. Give yourself realistic goals! I cannot stress that enough. If you love meat and decide to go vegetarian as a short term diet “for the health” rather than a desire for long term health, you’re probably going to be miserable and not be able to stick to it. And then when you reach for that burger you feel guilty. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to feel better about myself with my lifestyle changes, not worse. If you can’t quit something cold turkey, try reducing it a little at a time until you’ve completely cut it out of your life.
Another suggestion I have is to surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging. I’m not saying this means you have to only hang out with people you see at the gym or juice bar; notice that I said positive and encouraging, not like-minded. I was training for the 2013 MCM but my gastroparesis has continued to get worse and put me too far behind in my training to realistically expect myself to be able to do the run this year. When I decided to pass on the marathon, I felt like a failure having to acknowledge that I couldn’t meet my goal. I know it’s not my fault I got sicker, but it was the first time I had to say I couldn’t do something that I truly wanted to do because of my illness. I was talking to a friend about this and she said something that was so encouraging. She said, “Just because you don’t do the marathon this year, doesn’t mean that you can’t ever do a marathon.” Now this sounds so simple, but being in the middle of the situation I didn’t see this. All it took was that one little insight to make me feel so much better. The support that I’ve received from my friends and family through everything has made a world of difference
Now does that mean I stop running and start eating junk? Absolutely not! It means that I acknowledge that I might have to put that goal off until next year, but if I keep going with what I have been, think of how far along I’ll be this time next year. In getting sicker I had to stop working out for a few weeks so I lost a lot of endurance that I had built up. Am I disappointed? Definitely. Am I disappointed in myself? Definitely not. I have given myself realistic goals to get back into working out. I start by saying, “I will workout at least three times a week.” I know that I will get at least three workouts a week in, and when I get more than that I feel even better about myself!
It’s time we start making realistic goals and expectations so that our journeys make us feel better about ourselves. This journey is about you, not anyone else. Do what works for you, take baby steps. Be proud of how far you’ve come and where you’re going. The slower you take the journey, the more likely you are to build habits that work for you, and more importantly, habits that last. Take this time to learn to love yourself more. One day that little voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do something or that you’re a failure for missing a workout will become a positive and encouraging voice that pushes you to keep going.